RENDEZVOUS WITH REALITY: The American Economy After Reagan by Murray Weidenbaum

RENDEZVOUS WITH REALITY: The American Economy After Reagan

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Former chairman of President Reagan's Council of Economic Advisors, Weidenbaum warns that the federal budget deficit, the trade deficit, and US borrowing overseas are all combining to force Americans to make hard economic decisions soon or face a reduced standard of living. In this lucidly written volume, Weidenbaum comprehensively deals with the problems that will inevitably confront the American economy after the end of the Reagan Presidency. For nearly two decades, Americans have borrowed to finance an unprecedented spree of public and private consumption--everything from increased welfare benefits and defense spending to a flood of imported products. Now the bills are coming due, and the likely result is a reduced standard of living as we struggle to repay our debts. If we act now, however, we can avoid many of the painful consequences of our past economic indulgences. Weidenbaum strongly warns against the perils of overregulation and protectionism--pointing out the real harm caused by government bailouts of corporations, and ridiculing the notion that government bureaucracies could manage an ""industrial policy."" He also demonstrates the negative effects on job opportunities caused by government-mandated employee benefits and the lowered level of investment that results from our current federal tax policies. Agreeing with Reagan when he said in 1967, ""The truth is there are simple answers. There are just not easy ones,"" Weidenbaum closes his analysis with proposals for the future that embrace nine key areas of national policy: the budget deficit, defense spending, welfare reform, education, taxation, ecology, foreign trade, corporate bailouts, and takeovers. The one major flaw with Weidenbaum's analysis is that he fails to devise a really effective set of incentives that would force Congress to keep costs down and to make the tough choices between competing government programs. His analysis and proposals, however, will undoubtedly inform the public debate on economic policy in the run-up to the presidential election this November.

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 1988
Publisher: Basic Books